The Strange Case of the Vibrating Breast
Strange, my left breast “vibrates” every so often, sort of like a cell phone that's on vibrate! For the last three days my left breast has this strange vibration. At first I thought I was imagining it but it continues! It doesn't hurt… just feels weird. Could it be a symptom of breast cancer? — Joni
Of the thousands of questions readers have asked here on this site, very few have proved as engaging as this one.
Hundreds of readers have written of their own vibrating breast experience. Some report underlying medical conditions from multiple sclerosis, to obesity, to acid reflux syndrome, poor posture, chiropractic issues, vitamin B12 and vitamin B6 deficiency. Some worry that, being a breast cancer survivor, vibration is a sign of recurrence.
Some have reported consulting a doctor, and have gotten these responses:
Two readers note that they later discovered cancer in their vibrating breast. One added that her oncologist said the vibration had nothing to do with her cancer.
One reader is sure the vibration is related to the magnetic/electronic field of laptop computers.
What’s the story here? Is there a good explanation for this puzzling condition?
Not so far as anyone knows. Just like research around a cure for cancer, there are lots of possibilities, but no definitive answer.
I’ve done extensive online research, and have come up with the following, which at least seem like reasonable possibilities:
Fasciculation – a tiny twitching of the muscles, this can be the result of motor neuron disease. But it can also occur in healthy people, the result of too much caffeine, exercise, fatigue, or stress.
Contractions of the tiny muscles surrounding the milk ducts in the breast. Cause unknown, though the theory is they could be due to a temporarily blocked duct.
Spasms of the tiny blood vessels in the breast. Again, cause unknown.
Martee L. Hensley, M.D., a medical oncologist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, writes about breast vibration as follows:
“While feeling vibrations in the breast is a rather uncommon complaint, these sensations have not been associated with any serious condition. It is sometimes hard to pinpoint an exact cause… [but it’s] highly unlikely that there is cause for alarm, whatever the specific explanation.
“Some possible causes may include muscle twitching – breast tissue does have a small amount of muscle in it, and these muscles may involuntarily contract, like a muscle spasm you might feel in a larger muscle. The chest-wall muscles behind the breast tissue might also contract or spasm.”
Judging by reader feedback, the vibration often goes away after several weeks. And your vibrating breast, though annoying, isn’t a breast cancer symptom – at least according to any of the responsible sources that track and report breast cancer symptoms.